Should Londoners abandon public transport?

Collectively, of course not. But for the selfish individual is it worthwhile? It turns out that the quarterly road deaths in London last year averaged 54. 52 people were murdered in the July 7th attacks (and four times more people travel by tube or bus than drive, cycle or walk). Leaving public transport is only going to be safer if the terrorists strike much more often in future.

How likely is that? Since we were all told that attacks were inevitable in the end, the horrible fact that they finally happened shouldn’t really change our estimate of the chance that they will happen again. Experiences in New York and Madrid suggest that a sustained campaign is hard. Let’s hope so.

Aside: Gary Becker and Yona Rubinstein have a paper on the response to the fear of attacks. It seems that defying terrorists is a fixed cost, willingly paid by frequent users of planes, buses or cafes but declined by casual users. That accords with my experience: I have no worries about returning to live in London permanently, but am pleased that my baby daughter will be travelling in a car on our imminent visit.


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